Man sentenced to 25 years in prison in police standoff

Drifter apologizes for shooting at officers

Carroll County

February 07, 2003|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A man who unleashed bullets and obscenities at police in a July 2001 standoff outside Westminster wept and apologized to some of the officers yesterday in a Carroll County Circuit courtroom, where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Earl William Delker Jr., 40, a Westminster-area drifter and former truck driver, repeatedly asked police to kill him early on the morning of July 29, 2001, saying "I want you to shoot me," a prosecutor said. Yesterday, Delker thanked the officers for not fulfilling his request.

"I'm sorry that I put your lives in danger. I really am sorry," Delker said, turning to address several troopers.

"It was a terrible night," Delker added, before Assistant Public Defender Brian Green took over reading his statement as Delker began to cry.

Delker received a 25-year prison sentence under a plea agreement in which he was convicted of four counts of first-degree assault on four officers - three troopers and one officer from Westminster - and of the use of a handgun in a crime of violence.

The incident began at 1:30 a.m. when Delker's ex-girlfriend called state police in Westminster, according to the lengthy statement of facts recited yesterday by Senior Assistant State's Attorney Clarence W. Beall III.

The woman had obtained a protective order against Delker in Anne Arundel County, and Delker had been convicted of assaulting the woman's child in 1999 in Carroll, Beall said.

Delker had vodka, a Rottweiler-mix dog and the revolver in his truck, and he wanted to meet the woman at a secluded spot, the prosecutor said. But the woman persuaded him to meet at a Sheetz store in Manchester about 3 a.m. - where two troopers met him instead.

Delker fled on Route 27 at speeds of 80 to 90 mph, according to the statement of facts. Police used stop sticks to flatten his tires, but Delker kept driving, traveling south in the highway's northbound lane, Beall said. Shots were fired into his tires and a trooper attempted to use his cruiser to block the pickup, which careened into a ditch near Route 482.

After negotiations failed, police fired spray and beanbags at Delker, but he would not surrender. When Delker shot at them, the police returned fire and shot him.

He was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center with a gunshot wound to his right arm and some bruises from the beanbags, Beall said. His revolver had been fired five times and had one live round left.

Delker, whose blood-alcohol level was above the legal standard for intoxication, was later evaluated at several state psychiatric facilities before being returned to the Carroll County Detention Center, Beall said.

He had previous convictions for burglary, resisting arrest, battery, destruction of property and drug violations, Beall said.

At least nine officers were within 15 yards and directly in the line of fire from Delker's Smith & Wesson revolver as the drunken man urged them to shoot him, Beall said. One bullet whizzed by the right ear of Trooper James Green, Beall noted repeatedly. Earlier, Delker had fired out a window of the truck as an officer crouched to use pepper spray.

The judge, the prosecutor and the defense attorney praised the restraint of the police officers at the scene.

"To say the officers exercised remarkable restraint is an understatement. ... Many would have taken the defendant's life and no one would have questioned it," said Judge Michael M. Galloway. He ordered that Delker be placed on five years' probation upon release, and that he abstain from drugs and alcohol during that period.

The judge said he would consider a request to modify the sentence after 18 months.

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